Saturday, July 13, 2024

IPL 2023 | At 41, Dhoni shows he still has fuel left in the tank

Magic in the air: There’s a buzz when Dhoni walks to the crease.

Magic in the air: There’s a buzz when Dhoni walks to the crease.
| Photo Credit: AFP

Chennai Super Kings’ first home match in four years against Lucknow Super Giants on Monday was all about skipper M.S. Dhoni.

Much to the delight of the fans, the two sixes he hit in the final over of the CSK innings was the defining moment. The Super King’s 12 runs also proved the winning margin.

In a storied career with numerous titles and records, Dhoni’s second maximum took him to another milestone — he became the seventh batter to score 5,000 runs in the IPL.

Special

Though there are four Indians for company in the elite club, Dhoni’s record is special as he is the only middle- to lower-order batter in the list.

Among the other six — Virat Kohli, Shikhar Dhawan, David Warner, Rohit Sharma, Suresh Raina and A.B. de Villiers — only the South African has been employed as a floater in the line-up while the others have largely played in the top four.

Dhoni has mostly batted at No. 5 or below for a major part of his IPL career, walking in with just a few overs remaining. He has, however, scored at a healthy strike-rate of 136 while averaging nearly 40 (39.09).

Ever since his retirement from international cricket in 2020, he has had modest returns over the last three IPLs.

During this period, CSK’s batting depth has also allowed the captain to relax as the team is not too much dependent on him.

At the same time, Dhoni has made his presence felt, producing moments of magic the way he did in Qualifier 1 against Delhi Capitals in 2021 (18, 6b, 3×4, 1×6) to seal the chase.

This season, Dhoni has looked fluent during his visits to the crease. In recent times, the 41-year-old has been troubled by raw pace and quality spin.

But the fact that he put enough wood against the likes of Josh Little and Mark Wood — who both can clock above 140 kph — showed there is enough left in the tank.

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